If you have entered the United States unlawfully, overstayed a visa, or violated U.S. immigration or criminal laws, it is likely that removal proceedings will be initiated. While the process does not usually happen overnight, the Department of Homeland Security can deport you if they prove that deportation in necessary. Usually, prior to deportation there will be a hearing where you will have an opportunity to argue why you should be allowed to stay in the United States.
Commonly Asked Questions
If you have been issued a Notice to Appear, do not disregard this document. This is the United States government's notice to you that deportation proceedings have begun. The Notice to Appear will include your basic information, as well as, the basis for removal or deportation. At this hearing, the judge will ask if you are ready to proceed or if you need time to find an attorney. A judge will most likely allow a person some time to obtain an attorney if they request it.
It is important that once removal proceedings have been initiated, you consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Once you are ready to proceed, and have found an attorney, depending on the kind of immigration relief, the hearing may be postponed to await response on any application to USCIS, or set an individual hearing to adjudicate the matter.
During an individual hearing you will have the opportunity to testify, present witnesses and documents to support your case. At the end of the hearing, the judge may deliver an opinion or issue a written decision at a later date.
You may request or be offered voluntary departure by the court. This is an agreement between the court and you that allows you to leave the country within the time allotted by the judge. This usually affords more flexibility in preparing to depart the country, rather than being held in a detention center. However, be aware that should you fail to leave once granted voluntary removal, you may face some extreme penalties such as a bar to re-enter the United States.
If you are facing deportation, we highly recommend that you talk to an immigration attorney, as the law is complex and there may be options available to avoid deportation.
Once in Immigration Custody, Do NOT sign anything giving up your right to an immigration hearing in front of an immigration judge or any other rights. Sometimes immigration agents will serve you a Notice To Appear (NTA) but ask you to sign papers giving up your rights.
Ask for an Attorney
If you see an immigration judge and you do not have an attorney, tell the judge that you need more time to find an attorney. Do NOT concede or admit to any charges against you. Do NOT go into detail about your case.
You may face automatic deportation because of your crime, consult a criminal immigration attorney about the positives and negatives of Vacating, Appealing, or Reopening your Criminal Case. This is very complicated, but may be your only way to avoid deportation.